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12 February 2021, 11:22

Private business urged to prioritize Belarus' interests

MINSK, 12 February (BelTA) – Belarus needs enterprising people who will prioritize the country's interests and prevent its destruction, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said at the 6th Belarusian People's Congress on 12 February, BelTA informs.

The head of state commented on a couple of things after the report of Zhanna Tarasevich, director of the Kunyavsky business union of entrepreneurs and employers.

“Indeed, we need enterprising people who will prioritize the country's interests and prevent its destruction,” the Belarusian leader emphasized. “We are not going to settle accounts with anybody. But we must take certain processes under control and we will.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko gave advice to business: “If you earn a lot, please help a lot. If your earnings are small, no one will ask much of you.”

“We are now putting pressure on one retail network. I will not name it. They were deliberately shunning Belarusian products. I asked to check what they sell. It turned out they promote Egyptian potatoes, Polish apples, Lithuanian products and so on and so forth,” the Belarusian head of state said. “I instructed my people to inspect it unofficially. How should I treat such a company? We have created conditions for them to work here. There is no place for a company with such policies in Belarus! Its services are not in deficit here!”

“I want you to understand my position: I am not angry or enraged, but I do care. We will support all production companies. They can open, work and generate profit. Regardless of their opinions… For Christ's sake, you may not like Lukashenko, or anybody else. Just work in compliance with the laws, honestly and fairly, taking care of the people working for you,” the Belarusian leader stressed.

Once again he encouraged businessmen to start working for the benefit of the state. “There will be consequences if you if you fail to toe the line. I am a statesman, and I will make demands as an authoritative leader. Or as a dictator, if you like. I will demand all that as long as I am in office. I do not frighten anybody, but let's work. On equal footing,” the president said.

In her speech Zhanna Tarasevich remarked that it is important not to break the economic system, to guarantee transparent and understandable doing business conditions to all economic operators, to eradicate inside discrimination and protectionism. For this purpose, the speaker suggested including a special section “Major guidelines of the economic policy and state management of the social and economic development” in the draft of the new Constitution and to reflect major priorities such as the level of state regulation in the economy, guarantees of freedom of business initiatives, competition, social and labor relations, etc. in it. According to Zhanna Tarasevich, tax legislation norms and responsibility should be equally understandable for business, auditors and courts. She also spoke about the efficient competition policy and the efforts to cut red tape.

“I now tend to believe that by taking opinions into account and making decisions on such proposals, we have created Brownian movement or even chaos in the country, and especially in Minsk. And not only in business,” the head of state said.

He explained what he meant. For example, there was a proposal to facilitate business registration replacing a permit-based principle with a declarative one. “And what we got: one pal registered 20-30 companies. He submitted an application and opened a company, submitted and opened.” According to the president, after the audit it turned out that a half of those companies were used to transfer money abroad without paying taxes. “I am not even speaking about other moments,” the Belarusian leader said.

“And the speaker made a remark about licensing in medicine. Another unpopular opinion: our government and I personally learned a lot from the previous year. Besides, I was closely monitoring the registration of enterprises in the healthcare industry, I was doing my best to facilitate this process without thinking too much about how enterprises were registered there and by whom. But I was keeping an eye on the situation. And what did we get? Civil servants or soldiers come to such private hospitals and are refused medical aid. How should I respond to that? For you to know: such things will be eradicated by all means!” the head of state warned.

The president also spoke about one journalist. “I will not call her name. She came to her director in tears. He reported to me right away. In those tough moments she brought her kid to a kindergarten, but they asked to leave because she supported the current government. Such things happened in private and, unfortunately, public kindergartens. Tell me how I should respond?” Aleksandr Lukashenko asked a rhetorical question.

“I do not want to be involved in it too much, but I instructed the Minsk City Hall and the head of our senate [presidential envoy in Minsk and Chairperson of the Council of the Republic Natalya Kochanova] to stop this mess with business registration,” the president said.

In his words, when registration simplification initiatives were discussed they, first of all, thought about employment. “We have enough jobs, don't we? You can work and have a good salary. It is not a problem today,” he said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that the state has always supported and protected private initiatives. “And what did we get in return? Why did not the previous speaker say about it?” the head of state wondered. And if you want (no offense to you, private businessmen) equal conditions - work on equal terms. And be responsible for your workers. There are some insinuations about the pension system, other things… There should be equal conditions and no exceptions. “What else do you expect for envelope wages? They say: do this and that, and then there will be no envelope wages. It has been specified in the legislation, hasn't' it?”

“Our auditors and especially judges aren't crazy. And they understand that the life of the country depends on the economy, production, and business,” the president stressed.

According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, business representatives often speak about equal conditions. But on the example of sales in the light industry we can see that they already work in better conditions that state-run enterprises. “They have glutted the market with cheap clothes. They are cheap not because they are cheap in Turkey or China, but because we gave preferences to them. Conditions are not equal. Representatives of the Kunyavsky union proposed that some time ago,” the head of state said. “And when time came to stop all that, they started crying. What justice and equal conditions do you want? These are equal conditions. And it will be so.”

The president also focused on the fairness and social responsibility of business. “She is right – equal conditions. If you are rich – pay more and support the poor. Because these people work for you, thanks to them you have your millions. And you are building property in Turkey and other countries. They are concerned about Babariko: he is a president's rival, and was put to prison! I don't care about such rivals. He has real estate in Turkey, mansions here, no one is living like he is living. Cars, houses, his children are involved in it, he opened ventures. What else do you need? Should I watch it calmly?”

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